Getting Ready for a Website Redesign

A website or platform redesign is a big commitment in terms of both time and money. Coming to the project kickoff prepared can save you from wasting that time and money

You’ve done your due diligence and secured the necessary budget. Nearly everyone in your organization is excited about the redesign, and you're eagerly awaiting the initial kickoff.

But now is not the time to wait around. Preparations for a successful website redesign should begin long before the official project kickoff.

Gather the required files and information

Your agency partner will likely provide a list of things they need before phase one of your project begins. The earlier you collect these things, the better. Gathering the following information will allow your partner to form questions and identify gaps, leading to a more productive project kick-off. 

List of stakeholders

Who will be involved in the project from your organization? These are the people making decisions, offering feedback, and attending meetings relating to the project. Some helpful information for each stakeholder:

  • Project role and responsibilities: What are they accountable for? When should they be informed and/or consulted?
  • Subject matter expertise: What questions should be directed to this person?
  • Project availability: How often can this person participate in the project? Daily, weekly, or only when absolutely necessary?
  • Contact information: Email, phone number, and other relevant information.

If you know, also highlight the most critical stakeholder. Who, above all else, needs to give approval?

We also ask clients to identify a project owner or liaison. This person is the primary point of contact throughout the project and can also make final decisions and provide clarity. Since we work in a very open, collaborative manner with many voices and perspectives involved in the design process, this primary contact ensures efficiency.

Audience definition

If you have any existing user personas, user-mode descriptions, or anything else that helps describe the audience for your website, get those together. Often, these can be outdated. The last time you looked at them was that redesign from four years ago. Dedicate some time to make sure this information is still accurate.

You can define an audience by role or by intent. For each audience, try to provide the following:

  • What are the most valued tasks on the current site?
  • What are the pain points with the current site?
  • What is the significance or priority of this audience?

Brand and content guidelines

Include any existing brand guidelines, such as logo libraries, color palettes, font styles, iconography, voice and tone documentation, interface inventory, graphic or photo libraries, and more. Also, include any creative concepts your team has already explored.

Brand voice is often neglected because it's associated with content and content concerns get relegated toward the end, much closer to launch. But this is a mistake. For the best results, you want your redesign crafted for your actual content, not hypothetical content.

Reports and data

Provide any relevant data that might be useful, such as insights from analytics, customer surveys, interview notes and findings, usability study results, competitor analysis, and more. Existing content inventories or audits, along with a list of content types within your CMS, are always helpful.

Together, these provide a map of where you currently are, which makes it easier to chart a course to the desired destination.

Technical architecture and access

Provide any existing technical documentation, requirements, and constraints. If you are planning any changes during the project, that is also helpful information. For example, have you evaluated and selected a different host for the new website?

Have logins and access credentials ready for the incoming team for areas needed to conduct their work. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Private areas that will be redesigned
  • The current CMS
  • Project repositories
  • Project management and communication software

Start collecting this early. Nothing is more frustrating than starting a project and then forcing the team to sit around, waiting for passwords.

Timeline concerns

Every project has a desired launch date. But does your redesign have any external business factors influencing it? For example, is a redesign needed for a specific milestone or event important to the business? What happens if timelines are missed, and how might this affect stakeholders and website end users? Be upfront about these concerns so project teams can prioritize things properly.

User recruitment for user testing

Any robust redesign process will include rounds of user testing to ensure everything is on the right track. Those audiences you defined and collected? It’s time to recruit some representative members of those audiences. Having a list of users ready to contact and schedule speeds the process up. 

The easiest and most cost-effective way to recruit is to set up a form on your site for participants to fill out if they want to participate in future user studies. Then, place a callout on the site that points to the form. Have questions that help researchers funnel submissions into the audiences you defined. For easier communication in the future, put these into an email platform like Mailchimp and use its segmenting or tagging tools.

You can try services like User Testing, but they can be expensive and might not have a large enough user pool to suit your audiences.

Be aware of any roadblocks or laws around compensation and incentives for participating users. Some state governments are not allowed to give constituents money for any reason.

Setting baselines

To measure the success of a redesign project, you first need some baselines. These need to be specific. When you get to the end of a project, you want to have an answer to “Did this work?” or “Was this money well spent?” You want to point to some quantitative data, not shrug your shoulders and wave vaguely in the direction of the pretty new landing pages.

To create some baseline measurements, you must be honest about your goals. Being honest is the only way to know what you need to measure. 

Why are you doing this redesign?

Is one of your goals to improve wayfinding and reduce the number of support requests from the website? Start now if you don’t have records of how many support requests are generated each month. After the redesign is launched, this will be an easy measurement to compare.

Maybe you want to reduce the number of clicks it takes for a user to perform an action. To determine if the redesign has improved this number, you need to know how many clicks it currently takes on average.

Is your goal more fuzzy, like “increase user satisfaction?” Take time to craft some surveys of your users that distill down to a some satisfaction score. Six months or so after launch, you can send out the survey again and compare the results.

If you aren’t sure exactly what you want to improve, ask your team the following question: What do we count as a conversion? You might get several answers. Once you have this list, see if you have analytics to track the funnels that lead to these conversions. Many times, you’ll find this data isn’t being collected.

It’s time to start collecting it now. The earlier, the better. You’ll want at least a month's worth of data, though this depends on your traffic levels.

Prepare your calendars

You’ve prepared a list of stakeholders, as recommended above, but that list doesn’t do much good if the stakeholders are too busy to participate. Or worse, some stakeholders might not even know you are doing a redesign. You don't want the first time they learn about this to be when your agency partner reaches out to ask questions or schedule a meeting.

The first few weeks of a redesign project require a significant time commitment. It might require daily check-ins. Other projects must be put on hold, and priorities must be temporarily shifted. Be sure to communicate these expectations before the project kickoff.

Don’t expect your team to juggle all their everyday responsibilities while also requiring them to make a big-time commitment to the redesign. It’s unrealistic. It can cause burnout and resentment.

The time commitment required can shrink after the first month, but a core group of stakeholders still needs to be available for weekly check-ins. Your redesign will only succeed if you prioritize and get your stakeholders highly invested in the process.


A website or platform redesign is a big commitment in terms of both time and money. Being prepared can save you from wasting that time and money. Ensure you’ve gathered all the required information, have good baseline measurements for your goals, and prepare your team’s calendar so they can be invested in the process.

If you do the work required before the project kicks off, the project itself will go much smoother.

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